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Birds in trouble? Yes … here’s why

Saturday, January 8, 2011 15:09
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(Before It's News)

Warren Watkins / The Daily Citizen / EPA

A dead blackbird on the ground in Beebe, Ark. Government officials estimate more than 4,000 blackbirds fell to the ground Jan. 1.

Birds are indeed in trouble. But this trouble has nothing to do with freakish events such as the thousands of blackbirds that fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Rather, experts say birds are falling prey to a laundry list of long-term threats ranging from pollution and habitat loss to climate change.

The bird deaths in Arkansas, along with more deaths that have been reported in Louisiana, then Kentucky and Sweden, have been swept up into a phenomenon that’s been dubbed the “aflockalypse” — but these events are actually relatively routine. They’re not a sign that the end is near.

“I don’t think there is a story here,” Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, told me when I asked for his take on the buzz surrounding the birds. “It is probably just a bunch of independent events that have suddenly generated public notoriety and that’s got everybody worried.”


Birds in trouble

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about. Pimm noted that one in six bird species is threatened with extinction.

“That is a story that is due to habitat loss and global climate disruption and a variety of global causes like that. That is something we were worried about last year, and we should be worried about now, and it is something that we should be worried about 10 years from now,” he said. “But I don’t think they have anything to do with the current events.”

The current events are “the kind of thing we deal with everyday,” said Krysten Schuler, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who helps maintain a database on wildlife die-offs. Whether or not mass die-offs are on the uptick is uncertain – the biologists only know about those that are reported. They suspect that many, perhaps most, are never brought to their attention.

What’s different over the past few days is more people are noticing the die-offs and, at least for the moment, reporting them. This may be the result of technology – cell phones, the Internet, and instant global communications, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson told The Associated Press on Thursday.

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  • electra111

    This is propaganda you just copied from so-call experts. It isn’t natural that birds suffer their internal organs liquefying and hemorrhaging before they fall. And so many different deaths at once of such high numbers is beyond normal. This is not normal die-off at all.

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